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Barrett Seeks Help From State Lawmakers to Curtail Violence


It’s been a violent week in Milwaukee. At least 20 people have been shot since Friday.

After bullets hit four more people on Tuesday, Mayor Tom Barrett decided to spend more on police patrols.

“I have approved $500,000 in additional money for overtime, and I’m asking the state to match that,” Barrett says.

In addition to more funding, Barrett is also asking state leaders to pass tougher gun laws. He says as things stand, Wisconsin prohibits felons from carrying guns, but some crimes that start out as felonies are plea bargained down to lesser offenses.

“You can have individuals who’ve been charged numerous times with felonies. If the plea comes in as a misdemeanor, the person can still get the gun,” Barrett says.

Barrett says he’d also like the state to impose a mandatory three year sentence on people convicted of violating gun laws.

Gov. Walker says he supports the mandatory sentence idea, but not to the sending a half million dollars to Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Assemblyman Jon Richards says he’s working on the mandatory sentencing legislation.

“It would say that if you committed a crime or a judge has said you can’t have a gun or if you can’t have a gun for another reason. For example, if you’ve been involuntarily committed because of a severe mental illness, and then you’re caught with a gun committing a crime then you would go to jail for three years,” Richards says.

Richards says he hopes to introduce his proposal in September and have it enacted by the end of the year.

For his part, Police Chief Edward Flynn says his officers are watching known offenders.

“As part of our violence reduction strategy, we’re focusing on 189 people each of whom has been arrested two or more times for a gun offense, undeterred by the status quo,” Flynn says.

Flynn says while shootings are on the rise, many are almost predictable.

“Inevitably, we find that people arrested for firearms violations frequently find themselves re-arrested for violent firearms offenses or become the victims of firearms offenses. It’s almost the number one rule of victimology in Milwaukee,” Flynn says.

Flynn says his agency’s focus is mainly on districts three and five where the majority of shootings have occurred.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.